How Well Do They Collaborate?

Revised workload

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I was listening to a podcast earlier today about different business strategies and the subject of collaboration came up. After working with quite a few companies, the speaker concluded this was a weak link for many of them.

He felt that perhaps some of this was due to the original formation of the word itself.

“Collaborate” had as one of its earlier or perhaps earliest meanings: “to cooperate with the enemy.” I recall from various stories and movies about World War 2, a collaborator was someone who helped the Germans in various countries they had invaded.

Well, I’m not so sure this earlier definition would be a reason that people in today’s workplace might have a difficult time working with others.

But the ability to work with others IS an important quality to look for when hiring.

A business can grow nicely or be severely held back solely on the amount of cooperation that occurs amongst its individuals and groups.

Does the marketing department work well with the sales department and vice versa? Or do they give each other lip service and just go about doing things the way they want to. Or worse, are they at odds because each department “knows best”?

But let’s concentrate here on one person’s ability to collaborate: your applicant.

How well can she work with others?

Does she work well with others because management wants her to, or because she herself believes it’s the best way to get things done?

Let’s find out.

“Alice, tell me about a couple of projects you’ve done at previous companies that required a considerable amount of collaboration on your part.”

Or, “Frank, tell me about a time when you observed something was not going to get done on time or was not going to get done very well unless you personally cooperated with the others involved at a much higher level than you are used to.”

Of course, you’ll want to listen for what Alice and Frank did that showed they were actually working WITH other people.

But you want to be listening for something more. You want to see if Alice or Frank felt they were making things succeed because of their personal involvement OR if they really understood the value of working WITH other people as the compelling force at work.

And maybe even one more thing to keep your radar tuned for: did they enjoy the collaboration?

If your applicant feels collaboration is a valuable means of getting things done and if they genuinely enjoy doing so, well, I’d say you’ve got a keen insight into a potential employee.

Would you agree?



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


How Do They Handle Unpredictability?

Tough job interview

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Day-to-day business life can often be very hectic. We’d like to have things orderly and predictable, but it’s just not always going to be that way.

The famous heavyweight boxer, Mike Tyson, once said, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.”

Well, business life tends to punch us in the mouth every so often. Some of us can handle that very well, others not so much.

So, let’s find out how a candidate might deal with uncertainty or unpredictability or even getting punched in the mouth.

Start the Interview 30 Minutes Late

Then ask the applicant why he’s 30 minutes late?

Okay, I even winced a bit writing that, but you’ll get an immediate idea of how your applicant handles opposition or a challenge.

Will the applicant buckle and, to keep the peace, say, “Oh, sorry for being late.”

Or will he hold to his notion that he was on time and you’re late.

Will he get flustered, even a bit upset?

Whatever happens, you’ve thrown a curve his way and you’re getting a first hand look at how he handles it.

Ask Her the Same Question Over and Over

Again, I’m wincing (come on, I am human), but this is another example of deliberately trying to fluster our applicant.

Here’s an example:

You ask Carol to tell you about her last employment. Carol gives you a good report on that. You move on to a few other parts of the interview and then ask, “Okay, Carol, why don’t you tell me about your last employment?”

Again, you discuss other aspects of the job interview and then, “Carol, tell me about your last employment.”

Now, that’s the third time asking about her last employment. The second time, she probably thinks that you forgot that you already asked or perhaps you want to know more about that time period, but a third time? What gives?

Do we dare and go for a fourth time?

I’ll leave it to you, but you get the idea. We’re challenging Carol’s poise, and we want to see how she responds.

Will she keep her cool and answer professionally?

Or will we see something less than professional.

Challenge Her Answers

This is probably one of the toughest hiring tips I’ve written. By now, I’m sure you understand why.

We’ll stay with Carol on this.

Carol tells you that she’s very skilled at handling a management position. She feels she has excellent leadership qualities.

Your response could be:

“I don’t think that’s true.”

And then say nothing. Wait until Carol responds.

She’ll likely ask you why you feel that way.

You could say, “Well, I just don’t sense you’re telling me the truth.”

I won’t begin to tell you what may happen next, but be prepared for just about anything.

And of course, be sure to keep your cool all the way through this kind of interview.

Life in the business world can move along smoothly until a customer comes up to us and calls us a liar or demands their money back right now, right now or yells at us in front of five other customers.

Or a supplier tells us they can’t deliver that item you urgently needed this morning until you pay your bill and you know the bill is fully paid. The supplier has got to hang up now and attend his daughter’s wedding, so you won’t be able to supply the evidence that the bill is paid until after the wedding and the reception! Way too late for you.

When these circumstances punch us in the mouth, we’ve got to have staff who can calmly and effectively do what’s needed.

If you’re hiring for a position that requires considerable poise in the face of daily challenges, you might consider this tip during the hiring interview. It will likely not be a boring interview.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Have Them SHOW You How

hiring the right people

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I wrote an earlier hiring tip that recommended you ask very specific questions so that you can get an idea of how someone would handle different situations.

In two other tips, I suggested you take your applicant for a tour and the benefits of having your prospect “audition” for the job.

Last but not least, Devora Lindeman, an attorney specializing in employment law, wrote a hiring tip to answer the question:

Do I Pay for a “Working Interview?”

If you haven’t read those tips yet, I recommend giving them a read.

Now I’d like to make another suggestion that will help you understand your applicant’s potential.

It’s one thing to ask your prospect how he or she would handle a particular situation.

It’s another to have them SHOW you how they would do this.

Here’s an example:

Alice is applying for the Office Manager position. You could ask Alice to tell you how she would handle an employee who consistently criticizes other employees

or…

You could ask Alice to show you right there on the spot how she would do that.

“Alice, let’s say I’m an employee that always seems to be criticizing other employees. I never have a good word to say about anyone. I even make nasty comments about the boss from time to time. I’ll be that employee and I’d like you to show me how you’d deal with that.”

And then let Alice show you how she would handle that very interesting situation.

Here’s another example:

Bob is applying for the Collections position. It could go like this:

“Bob, I’ve got this outstanding bill here for Mary Smith. It’s well over 90 days overdue. I’m going to be Mary and I’d like to drill a phone session in which you call me and discuss my bill with me.”

And now we see how Bob would deal with that.

The examples, as you can imagine, are limitless. The key here is to have your applicant SHOW you how he or she would handle something.

The more you observe how your prospect will do things, the more likely you’ll make the right hiring decision.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


How Important Is “Attention to Detail”?

Attentive Mechanic

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From where I sit, attention to detail is a very important quality for someone who works with or for you.

How can you tell your applicant has it?

Well, first of all, it will show up before you interview them.

You’ll see it in the applicant’s résumé. Did he take the time to present a full picture of his skills and experience? Did he add some intangibles about himself that he feels will make him a good choice?

How your applicant approaches the résumé is your first sign.

The next one is: Believe it or not, are they on time for the interview?

A week doesn’t go by when someone who makes hiring decisions for their company tells me they cannot believe how many applicants come late for their interview.

That is hard to believe.

Well, that lack of attention to detail is likely to show up in their performance down the road.

Okay, so they’ve got a well presented résumé and they’re on time, how should we address this subject in the interview?

Here are a few questions you could ask:

This first one is terribly simple, but might gain you an insight or two:

Fred, tell me your understanding of the phrase: attention to detail. What does that mean to you?

In your previous positions, when you detected that something was not being properly handled due to certain details being overlooked, how did you handle this?

When you discovered your work wasn’t up to your personal standards, what did you learn was the cause of this? How did you deal with this?

If you felt a co-worker was seriously lacking in his attention to detail and that this was affecting your job performance, what steps did you take to remedy this?

Tell me about times your attention to detail had a very positive effect on the company.

I’m sure you can come up with some other questions or approaches on this.

It is an admirable quality when someone takes pride in ensuring all the pieces of a work action are considered and carried out.

Don’t overlook or underestimate it when you see it.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


What’s NOT On Your Résumé?

Richard Branson
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I mentioned Richard Branson in an earlier Hiring Tip and I’m bringing him back for an encore here.

Richard Branson is the founder and CEO of Virgin Airlines, Virgin Records, well, pretty much Virgin anything. I think Richard Branson is a tremendously bright business owner, executive and leader.

In his latest book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, he says:

“As important as it is to look at what a candidate has achieved elsewhere, I have always believed that the single most important thing to consider is ‘personality fit.’ By that I mean, is this someone whose way of being, sense of humor, and general demeanor will dovetail easily with your company's culture?”

With that in mind, he recommends asking this question in the interview:

What didn't you get a chance to include on your résumé?

There have been a number of Hiring Tips specifically addressing the subject of “fit.”

Does someone fit in with what we’re doing here?

Is this person a good fit for us?

And I’ve written at least 40 tips that may not use the word “fit” but their sole purpose is to find out if, in fact, your candidate can and will fit in.

Branson believes you should use a good chunk of your interview finding out who you’ve really got across from you.

I do too.

So let’s get back to the question:

What didn't you get a chance to include on your résumé?

This is an opportunity for your applicant to go beyond the routine hiring interview and ideally pull a few gems out of his or her hat.

Make it very okay for the applicant to bring out other facets of their personality or way of doing things that, well, didn’t make it on the résumé.

The more forthcoming your candidate is, the easier it will be for you to see if you’ve got a “fit.”



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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